The rise in cases of the Delta variant has diminished some of the hope of a normal post-COVID world. Now is the time to approach your business plan as if COVID, or something like it, is going to stick around forever. To a certain extent, people are learning to live normal lives despite the risks of COVID. With vaccines and widespread safety measures, many people have resumed a somewhat normal life, which includes going to their local gym. Even though the Delta variant is on the rise, some areas are seeing less of a decline in gym visits as the first round of closures, despite the variant’s highly transmissible profile. If this pandemic has taught us anything about the fitness business, it’s that you must be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice. Who knows what could happen next.
Here are five ways to keep your fitness studio afloat as Delta variant cases increase
1.) Embrace the hybrid model
Offering classes in a variety of formats - in-person, outside, and online - allows people to take classes as they feel comfortable. A hybrid fitness class model protects your bottom line from future COVID shutdowns or surges and alternately from some sort of cyber outage. Your studio likely shifted into digital quickly when everything shut down last spring, so you have the tools to run different types of classes. You may want to make this variety a permanent fixture in your studio; according to industry analysts and experts, hybrid classes could very well be where the fitness industry is headed. “So it seems our desk-sharing, partially work-from-home future won’t be the only hybrid model in our lives. Some might refer to the new exercise paradigm as the hybrid gym,” writes Nicole Nicole Nguyen in an article for The Wall Street Journal.
|Related: Six Tips for Successful Hybrid Fitness Classes
2.) Communicate safety to your consumers
Do your best to consistently communicate that your studio is a safe place for your customers to visit. It is also important to let people know that if they’re nervous about joining you in-studio, you respect their decision to stay home and have created ways to keep them involved in your classes and community. Make sure your COVID guidelines are clear, posted widely, and that everyone on your staff is a living example of those guidelines. Continually share with your community that these guidelines are in place to help them feel secure. Encourage feedback to keep everyone in the community a part of the safety conversation.
3.) Stay flexible
It is likely that by this point in the pandemic, you are no stranger to finding revenue streams that do not depend on your brick and mortar classes. Identifying several revenue streams will help protect you from financial catastrophe in the case of another shutdown or other unexpected event. Incorporating options such as hybrid classes, private lessons, special events, studio rentals, and merchandise can help increase your revenue within your current community.
4.) Continue to meet your customers where they are
The pandemic has been stressful on some level for most people. Not everyone is going to have the same comfort level coming back into the studio, and that’s okay. Keep in mind that your business is here to serve your clients. Ensure that you are listening to what they need right now and do your best to serve those needs. Stay in a constant dialogue with your clients by sending out polls or surveys, chatting with students after class, or activating FitGrid feedback surveys. Encouraging conversation about how your studio can add value to your clients’ lives can help you run a successful business in almost any environment.
5.) Nurture the sense of the community
People need a support system, especially when things feel chaotic. Strengthening your studio community during this time can help your clients feel as though they are supported and that they have a stable group to keep coming back to. Encourage your community to connect with each other after class, at special events or online through a tool like the FitGrid Class App. The stronger your community, the more people will feel compelled to spend time at your studio.
A new rise in COVID cases with the Delta variant might be causing anxiety amongst your students and staff, and that is okay. By staying flexible and focusing on your clients’ needs, you can position your studio as a stable force in a chaotic, COVID world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jacqui Somen is a health and wellness writer and NASM certified personal trainer who simply loves being in motion. She has been working in the industry for more than 14 years. When she’s not writing or working out, you can find her outside exploring the local trails. Follow Jacqui’s adventures at @vivamafit.
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level